In the past asbestos was a common mineral used in building materials and other goods such as insulation, shingles and tile. While it was prized because it is inexpensive, fire retardant and resilient exposure to asbestos can lead to various kinds of cancer. This can be cause for concern, but most modern construction avoids the use of asbestos. Even older buildings with construction materials containing asbestos aren’t a usually a threat except in the case of demolition or other construction that could disturb and release asbestos into the air. When asbestos materials are disturbed the dust in the air could be inhaled by people nearby and pose a health risk.
When to Inspect for Asbestos
Generally it is most advisable to seek an asbestos inspection when planning a remodel or new construction on a building. However, builders or home owners should request Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) in order to know whether new materials they intend to use contain asbestos. Most asbestos containing materials were temporarily banned in 1989, but the ruling was mostly overturned in 1991. Therefore asbestos can still be found in some building materials. Fortunately it isn’t very common any longer for new building projects.
Most buildings built before the 1980s will contain some measure of asbestos, but occupants don’t necessarily need to be concerned unless the asbestos is disturbed and becomes airborne. As stated before, generally asbestos containing materials are only disturbed during remodels, and day to day use and occupation will not result in exposure to asbestos. However, vermiculite insulation is an exception since it is especially prone to become airborne and contaminate the building occupants. It is important for home and building owners to consider seeking remediation to remove insulation suspected to contain asbestos, even if they aren’t intending to remodel.
How to Find an Inspector
Many states require asbestos inspections prior to working on homes to ensure the tenants’ safety. Asbestos inspections during the home purchase process aren’t required.
Most states also require inspectors to achieve training, accreditation, and a license through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). An inspector, for example from asbestos testing Sydney will take multiple samples and submit them to an accredited laboratory for analysis. If asbestos is found in any of the samples the agency will recommend next steps to safely remove the materials that contain asbestos. The written inspection report should contain information on where the asbestos or suspected asbestos is located in the home, and in which materials.
An asbestos inspection is only the first step. In cases where asbestos is detected or strongly suspected, remediation is an important next step. Regardless of whether building construction is in the works, a remediation specialist can advise the risk level of the particular situation and adequate steps to safely remove the asbestos. Professionals will conduct the work with special safety equipment to prevent inhalation.
The thought of asbestos in a home, school, or commercial building can be unsettling, but doesn’t need to be. However, those who are planning remodels that will disturb the existing building materials should conduct an asbestos inspection with a qualified professional. While this is a good idea before any remodel, it is especially important when considering working on houses built in the 1980s or earlier. When asbestos is detected it is important to seek remediation with a professional to safely and thoroughly remove the asbestos.